Archive by Author

Israeli Rockets and Palestinian Blogs

10 Nov

Is new media the new battleground for the Palestinian/Israeli conflict? And if so, how has blogging affected the public debate on the conflict and how has blogging responded to the main stream media and vice versa? To better understand the results this interaction has had on the public discussion of the Palestine/Israel conflict, one can easily seek out dozens of high quality blogs which explore commentary and debates from both Israeli and Palestinian perspectives.

Do traditional media outlets ask the right questions when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian saga, and do they grasp the significance of the regions complexity? I prefer to think that blogs like Jim Lobe’s, biased and all, do a better job at exploring issues such as the contest of leadership in the Middle East than mainstream media, and by doing so, provide greater platforms for all parties to voice their concerns. These blogs portray both sides aggressively projecting their story. Wherein the unbalanced way major US networks and press cover the Israeli-Palestinian story, new media provides new possibilities where many sectors of the US public (young people, women and minority communities) are more open than ever before to hearing a counter narrative to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Popular pundits in the Middle East blogosphere, such as Tony Karon, Juan Cole, and Tom Engelhardt impartially focus their blogs on both sides of the debate. More biased blog-based sites such as, Electronic Intifada provide a predominately Palestinian perspective of analysis and reporting of events in Israel and Palestinian territories, while more Jew-centric blogs like Haaretz and Mondoweiss cover American foreign policy in the Middle East from a non-Zionist Jewish context. The magazine blog, +972 offers independent commentary by on-the-ground Israeli journalists.

I’m curious to know your thoughts. Do you think blogging/new media matter to the policy making elite? What about Congress, lobby groups? How has the increase in participants in the discussion changed policy calculations if any? Does the openness created by blogging/new media, which was not present in the past, make elected officials think twice about their actions? And most of all, do you think there will one day be Peace in the Middle East?

Lastly, check out this short video by Culture’s of Resistance. It follows two musicians, one Iraqi and one Palestinian through New York as they make radio appearances, hit the studio with Public Enemy producer Johnny Juice, and perform together at CoR-ally Norman Finkelstein’s book tour event. Their multimedia tour was designed to publicize the truth about the Israeli military’s attack on the Gaza Strip. Lowkey and Mansour are two artists who place the plight of the Palestinian people at the center of their creative work, encouraging young Palestinians to express themselves through art, music, and creative forms of protest.

“We are more alike than we are unalike…

4 Oct

… But the way we are unalike matters.”

Gary Younge’s newest book Who are we – And should it matter in the 21st Century discusses the problematic nature of the labels of race, religion and gender. He draws on case studies from around the globe to highlight the notion that our individual identities are too often decided by who is judging or asking, when it is our experiences as humans that should shape who we really are, and instead of finding a common higher ground to overcome the issues that come hand in hand with identity, our society is becoming increasingly divided. As the discourse of national borders has amplified, the result has been an increase in nationalism worldwide, and instead of border relations becoming friendlier, they have grown increasingly hostile with groups retreating into divided camps.

Younge’s own experiences with identity, life as a black man of Barbadian heritage growing up in the UK, and various encounters in through Sudan, Paris, the former Soviet Union, and more recently, Brooklyn, has taught him that:

“Identities are about how we think about ourselves in relations to others. But those thoughts do not come out of a clear blue sky. Identities are rooted in material circumstances. In certain circumstances, whether you are British, black, gay, Iraqi, Hindu or female can be the difference between life and death, poverty and wealth, citizenship and statelessness. Power, resources, and opportunity are in play in how we choose to understand (or misunderstand) the value of ourselves and others.”

Who are we – And should it matter in the 21st Century, illuminates fact that how we define ourselves affects every part of our lives, and that if we really want to reach a common humanism, we must fight for it.

“When the gentile condemns anti-Semitism, the white challenges racism or the citizen takes on xenophobia, the lift the sense of siege on ‘the other’, creating possibilities for the Jew, black, or foreigner to denounce the dupe and the demagogue in their own community.”

Younge describes the dilemma American census takers face with their identity, and how ones concept of their self is constantly being questioned. Since identity is fluid and constantly evolving, the rigid and certain stereotypes that ‘mixed’ or ‘other’ box checkers face further aggravate the ‘equal opportunities’ that supposedly provided to all. Gary states that the census is a way to “bring order to the chaos” and while “those boxes are not meant to make us feel good, they give us a sense of what’s going on.”

Here comes everybody: The Web and Social Action

17 Sep

On Friday, September 17th, the bloggers behind Publish First.Ask Later hit the streets of New York to interview several willing and unsuspecting participants. We asked questions regarding the effect of social media, it’s impact on politics, and how technology influences the way we view information.